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May 25, 2010

North Korea Ups Tensions, Cuts All Ties With South

Not good.

North Korea declared Tuesday that it would sever all communication and relations with Seoul as punishment for blaming it for the sinking of a South Korean warship.

The North also announced it would expel all South Koreans working at a joint factory park in the northern border town of Kaesong, the official Korean Central News Agency said in a dispatch monitored in Seoul late Tuesday.

...South Korea's military restarted psychological warfare operations - including blaring radio broadcasts into the North and placing loudspeakers at the border to blast out propaganda - to punish the North for the provocation. The South is also slashing trade and denying permission to North Korean cargo ships to pass through South Korean waters.

North Korea struck back by declaring it would cut all ties with the South until President Lee Myung-bak leaves office. South Korean ships and airliners will be banned from passing through its territory and the North will resume its own psychological warfare, KCNA said.

Earlier, one Seoul-based monitoring agency reported that North Korea's leader ordered its 1.2 million-member military to get ready for combat. South Korean officials could not immediately confirm the report.

On what passes for the bright side in this kind of thing "Spook 86" writing at the military/intelligence blog "In From the Cold" reminds us we've seen this sort of thing before more than once.

Collectively, these incidents have claimed the lives of hundreds of South Koreans and U.S. military personnel. But the response to the murderous provocations have been remarkably similar. While the Pueblo capture prompted an American military build-up on the peninsula (and there was a show-of-force after the tree-chopping episode), recent reactions have been more muted, limited to diplomatic protests and attempts at expanded sanctions.

Obviously, this sort of "punishment" doesn't strike fear in the heart of Kim Jong-il and his senior generals. So, North Korea has continued its series of violent confrontations, culminating in the March torpedo attack on the Cheonan. From Pyongyang's perspective, it's a convenient way to refocus world attention on its "concerns" (read: more aid and concessions from Washingon and Seoul), and that tactic succeeds more often than not.

Follow the link for more on the history of North Korean provocations, US-Korea military cooperation and why this is the 'wrong' time of year for the North to launch a major military operation.

So yeah, we've seen this movie before but as always with North Korea, you just never know.


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posted by DrewM. at 12:03 PM

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